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Old 08-31-2011, 05:57 PM
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Default reddit transcript

WoT stuff at the top (sometimes the lines aren't incredibly clear, but at least the important WoT info is in the top bit). This transcript isn't done yet, and Brandon isn't done yet either, but it should be complete within a few days. I will keep everything threaded so it's not too confusing.

For another version of the transcript, go to 17th Shard - I tweeted them that I was doing a transcript, and they said they were doing one too...but I went ahead and finished, primarily because I prefer it somewhat threaded and separated by each Q&A (rather than QQQAAA, etc.) but they also don't do the trimming that I do, so you might like their transcript better.

***

ShutupElayneTrakand:
Most people know how awesome you are and will now proceed to tell you that and beg you to give them answers to questions that they’ll eventually RAFO. I’ll leave it to the others to gush and tell you those things (because they’re true). My question is about the Wheel of Time and is pretty menial but stands solely on a personal gripe with the word – why on earth is the word “loobie” used so much to describe Rand by his ladies – especially Min? Did Mr. Jordan leave a quota for that word that must be used a certain number of times? I just…especially for a character like Min that was, in particular, stronger and much less…sheepish than Rand’s other women, to have that as her affectionate word of choice makes me cringe. I would love to see a return of strong Min vs. sheepish doe-eyed Min, but if there’s any possibility of changing her word choice…I would find some way to repay you for you will have done me a great service.

Brandon: Ha. I can't see into Mr. Jordan's mind, though I can say that he was fond of using the writer's device of character-identifying traits. You'll find that if you hang out with certain people, and listen to their linguistic patterns, often they will repeat individual words and phrases all the time. (I know one guy who uses the word "Brilliant!" every other sentence.)

This may be the case where life is more annoying than fiction should be, however. I'll keep the comment in mind. You can pay me in heaps of Magic cards, preferably from the alpha/beta era.

ShutupElayneTrakand: That's a done deal. I have a ridiculous amount of cards remaining from the alpha/beta era that have been sitting and collecting dust since I ran out of money in the 8th grade. I know that they would absolutely love a new home.

Brandon: Ha. I was really joking. Please. Don't give me any really expensive cards. I'd feel too guilty. If you do have some, I'd at least insist on giving you fair-market value in trades for books.

natron6: Ya i also feel like the the word adroit/ maladroit were used a shit ton in the Mistborn series. Maybe i just noticed it so much because i had never heard those words before reading those books.

Brandon: Nah. I overused them. Didn't notice it until they were in print, and I added them (and some other words) to my "Be careful; you overuse these."

Every author does this, but some are better at keeping an eye on it than I am. Hence my 'kill list.'

***

keebler980: I read somewhere that RJ said the final story wasn't set in stone, and was fluid depending of circumstances, feelings, etc. Are the notes that he left older notes from the beginning (original thoughts), or newer notes from right before he passed (changed from his feeling in the beginning of the series)?

Brandon: I have both. There is a lot of flexibility, because often he implied things like: "I'll do this, or maybe this. The tone I'm looking for is this. Make it feel that way."

Some are hardfast. He wrote the last scene of the series, for example.

defiantburrito: Did RJ leave notes intending that somebody else would finish the series? Or are they notes to himself?

Brandon: Most of the notes were to himself. A large chunk are things he dictated on his death bed in the last weeks, after changing his mind and asking Harriet to find someone. (Originally, he had not wanted anyone to finish it for him.) Some of those dictations are directed more at me.

***

keebler980: How much of the ending are you creating, not just filling in the blanks per se?

Brandon: I'm not just filling in holes. At the same time, I'm trying hard to keep anything RJ said in mind, and trying to make the book fit his vision.

It's a tough balance. There is a lot of work to be done, depending on the character in question. For example, for TGS, he left a lot on Egwene, but less on Rand. In TofM, a lot on Matt, less on Perrin. He left a lot of notes on how everyone should end up after the Last Battle, but often didn't say how they'd get there.

One of the things I've been impressed by is this: Harriet and Tor could have hired a ghost writer and pretended that RJ finished the book before he died. People would have believed them. However, while a ghost writer could have imitated RJ's voice, Harriet felt she wanted a fantasy novelist to do it. First, to be honest to the fans. Second, because there was enough work to be done that the person couldn't just connect dots, but would actually have to build parts of the story.

She gave me complete creative freedom to do what needed to be done, with the understanding that she would edit. (If you don't know, Harriet is one of the 'greats' in sf/f editing. She edited Ender's Game, for example, and may of the big fantasy and sf authors during the 70s and 80s. She discovered RJ, edited him, then married him.)

So, when I go wrong, she is there to push me the right direction. It's hard to answer a question of how much is me, and how much is RJ. His fingers are on every scene, as I'm trying to match the character voices (but not his writing style exactly) and get them right. Most scenes come from at least a comment in the notes here or there, and for some, he left a paragraph or two explanation. For others, he wrote the entire thing.

For some, I'm building it from the ground up, taking where the character was at the end of KoD and giving them a story that earns them the ending RJ mentioned for them.

***

skylatron: Is there any forward movement on a Wheel of Time movie, TV series, or video game?

Brandon: Movie: No movement, if you're up to date on things I've said over the summer. Those things are thus. The books have been bought (not optioned) by Universal. They are planning on doing feature films, one per book. Many of us have suggested that television would be a better venue. (Perhaps Game of Thrones will persuade them.) I have met the studio exec and writer, but have been told I cannot release names. A script is done, but needs a lot of work.

Video Games: Red eagle is working with Obsidian on video games. I have suggested a KotOR style RPG. I don't know yet if they will listen, though there are talks of doing an Age of Legends MMO, and of exploring various time periods in the world. No specific games have been announced or begun, I believe.

kmolleja: Do you know what kind of rating will be aimed for the movies? I would imagine a visual depiction of what happens in the books would almost require a R for violence, but that rating would cause a lot of people to stay home.

Brandon: I strongly suspect, from what I've heard, that they would shoot for PG-13.

***

rileysweeney: Are Rand and Aviendha going to get some time on screen together in a Memory of Light? They had such an interesting dynamic and they have barely spoken for several books.

Brandon: RAFO. (You knew that was coming, eh?)

Though...it should be noted that prophesy says that Avi will have Rand's children...so, that's going to be kind of tough if they don't see one another again.

***

sparhawk1985: How did finding out the ending(s) to The Wheel of Time affect you personally? I feel like I have known these characters for so many years, and to not have something else to look forward to is going to be so weird for me.

Brandon: I felt, reading it, that Robert Jordan's ending was deeply satisfying. I liked it a lot. It is also weird to know that, to one extent, it's all over.

***

pivotal:
You've mentioned before that RJ left pages and pages of notes, including character development for characters that we've never even seen "on screen". So my question is twofold - how great as a WoT fan was it to get to read those, and is there any chance at all that they will ever be publicly available?

Brandon: 1) It was awesome. It also helped me grow a lot as a writer. 2) I would like, once this is all done, to publish a nonfiction book that includes a lot of the notes, along with explanations of what I did where and how I adapted specific notes. It will be Harriet's call. She doesn't want people's last memory of RJ to be the unfinished things he wrote, as he was very careful not to show unpolished work even to her. I can respect this.

***

Axelkappa: You previously mentioned on twitter a GRRM-esque moment in AMoL. Any more on that? In the end are you going to apologize or feel awesome?

Brandon: When the book is out, ask me about this. I'll tell you which one it was. It's something I was struggling with, trying different takes on. Finally, some things came together. I'll say more, but I'll put it in spoiler text. (It's not very spoilery, but some people don't want to know anything.) [It is a moment of awesomeness, but also is somewhat cruel. There is a death involved. It could be from the side of the Light, it could be from the side of the Shadow.

***

Angry Caveman Lawyer: I am not gonna lie, before you were chosen to finish up tWoT, I had no idea who you were. After reading your first addition to that series, I now have every book you've put out. I doubt I'm the only one out there like this, do you feel like your own sales have doubled/tripled/petered-off/declined/diminished/are no more primarily due to tWOT and Jordan's untimely passing?

Brandon: It's hard to separate these days. However, I got to huge boosts. When the announcement was made, all of my books jumped up to having 'first week' sales again. Most entertainment mediums follow the same slope. Huge first week sales, then a tapering off on a steady curve. (Sleeper hits and new books by first time authors don't follow this.)

When The Gathering Storm came out, I got another big boost, which was again a kind of 'First week' sales thing--though in that case, the bigger boost came around Christmas. It seemed that people bought Gathering Storm, read it, thought about it, then asked for one of my books for Christmas.

In the long run, it's going to be very hard--as I said--to separate how many readers tried me out because of the Wheel of Time. As books take on lives of their own (as Mistborn did) they gain a readership through word of mouth. However, how much of that 'taking on a life of its own' happened because of the initial WoT boosts?

***

rosered3791: What is the hardest part of finishing someone else's work?

Brandon: Getting all of the character voices right. That, and keeping track of all of the side characters. The WoT is a big project. There's also the sense that in these books--as opposed to others I've written--that I "owe" more to the fans, if that makes any sense. With my own works, I don't think "What will the fan reaction be?" I write the best book I can. With these books, I have in the back of my mind that they don't belong to me, they belong to the readers--and I need to be aware of that.

***

Shillster: Why does Verin make Mat promise to obey her letter if he opened it in ToM? In my mind of course if he would have obeyed the letter if he read it. All that Verin had to do was say "Mat, read this in a few days it's super important" then since he didn't have any reason not to read the letter he would read it and prevent the horrible battle with the trollocs. What was Verin's reasoning?

Brandon: A couple of things here.

The primary one is that Verin had to work around her oaths, which required her to go through some strange mental gymnastics. She actually tried out different ways of getting this information across, and could never make it work. (In her pouch was actually a letter that said something similar to Mat, but which read "Ignore what I say and open this immediately.) She couldn't pick it up at the moment, however. The oaths were binding. She would either have had to take poison right then, or bet on Mat being too impatient to wait.

Second thing is this, and it's a slight spoiler for the next book. [She did build in redundancy.]

Shillster: My question isn't regarding the loophole that she found, the question is as to why make Mat promise to obey the letter. She could have made him promise not to open the letter for 3 days and still maintained her loophole. It's the promise to obey the letter that makes Mat not read it and now they are in a whole lot of trouble because of it.

Brandon: Let's just say that Verin...didn't understand Mat as well as she thought that she did.

***

rand althor: I know Robert Jordan always answered this by saying, whichever character he was writing at the moment, but, as you were fan of WoT to start with...who are some of your favorite characters, as a fan of the series, from Wheel of Time?

Brandon: Now: Whoever I'm writing.

Before I started: Perrin, Aviendha, Tuon, Mat, Rand, Tam.

***

Terez: Why did Moiraine's bond with Lan break when the doorway burned? Did she intentionally release it?

Brandon: She did not intentionally release it. RJ has something about this in the notes, but I don't have the quote handy. It basically has to do with the severing of the link between worlds.

***

Terez: Will we get more details on how/if Lanfear died in AMOL?

Brandon: Yes.

***

WSB: Are there any rogue Heroes of the Horn?

Brandon: Depends on your definition of rogue.

WSB: As for definition of rogue, I would say if a Hero was acting intentionally or not to either advance the goals of the Shadow or to interfere with the actions of other Heroes.

Brandon: I do not know of any. We can MAFO it, but I'm pretty sure that there are none doing that. They don't all get along, mind you. But I don't believe any of them are Darkfriends.

***

WSB: Does the a'dam only work when the collar is worn around the neck?

Brandon: Yes, so far as I know.

***

WSB: Did the Dark One try to resist when Rand cleansed saidin?

Brandon: His resistance was primarily through the people he sent.

***

simenisak: Will Birgitte Silverbow's eternal love Gaidal Cain show up in AMoL?

Brandon: RAFO.

***

simenisak: Will Gaidal Cain be spun out as a hero of the horn of Valere should the horn be sounded again? Can a hero show up there if alive? Will a hero become a "copy" that rests within the horn until called to arms?

Brandon: As I understand, if you are 'spun out' you do not respond to the call of the Horn. So no Cain showing up if it is sounded again, as he's been spun out.

Astrogat: As you understand it? Isn't your understanding more or less canon at this point?

ilikedirigibles: No, it's not his world or book series. He can misunderstand something just as well as the next guy.

Not saying he did here, but just 'cuz he's finishing the series doesn't mean, for example, he can retcon or change anything or do "whatever he wants or thinks".

Astrogat: No of course not. But if there are two ways to understand something (that RJ has written) wouldn't it be up to Sanderson to decide which of those he believes to be right?

So if he thinks that when he's spun out he wont respond to the horn, no one can ever prove him wrong (there are nothing in the books to contradict this), so wouldn't his understanding be the "right" one?

Brandon: Here's the thing. There are three million+ words of notes, and RJ changed his mind about a lot of things as he wrote, explored, and made decisions. (He talked about this being his process. He saw the Wheel of Time as an organic thing.) So any time I speak on an issue like this, there's the chance that Maria (his assistant) will come to me and say "Actually, Brandon, he changed his mind on that. Look here for the revision." Half the time, it's something he mentioned in passing to her, Harriet, or Alan and isn't even written down.

So...on thinks I think I know, but haven't confirmed with Team Jordan yet, I usually add some wiggle room. My knowledge is far from absolute. Fortunately, everything in the books I write gets fact-checked a half dozen times. (Even then, some of my mistakes slip through.)

***

MattSteelblade: Will A Memory of Light be released as an e-book at the same time as the hardcover next year, or will we have to wait?

Brandon: It's unlikely. Harriet has much worry about the ebook format, and the fact that we wouldn't have gotten #1 on the time list if we'd done the ebook release at the same time has her extra jumpy. She released the ebook earlier than expected by my request last time, and I think we'll get it even earlier this time. But it probably won't be at the same time.

(Though, it may depend on how the Times counts ebooks then. Harriet feels it's important for RJ's legacy that these last few books continue the string of being #1 hits.)

***

MattSteelblade: Am I crazy or was a Memory of Light originally slated for November of this year?

Brandon: Yes, it was originally. After how hard it was to get TofM out on time (and after using up all of my 'buffer' by having books written and in the publication process before I started on TGS) we revised that date. It was just too much to do. Next year sometime for sure, though.

***

DanK23: Once you are finished with AMoL, do you think there will be any prospect of making the series into a movie? I know there was talk of it a long time ago but nothing ever came of it.

Brandon: It is still under option by Universal. (Do a search on this page for Universal to get a few more details. There aren't many to be had, unfortunately.)

***

RandTheHero: Will new versions of the Wheel of Time books be printed with the Ebook covers after AMoL is released?

Brandon: I'm pushing for it. Harriet is hesitant. She wants a re-release with something like the UK covers, more symbolic and classy. I kind of prefer the ebook covers, myself, though I wouldn't mind the UK covers.

***

Jonathan Entwisie: I was wondering whether you volunteered to finish the wheel of time or if you were approached and asked to finish it. Also do you find it difficult to set aside your own projects in order to complete it?

Brandon: I was approached. I didn't know I was being considered until Harriet called me on the phone. The hardest part was putting aside all of the quirky little side projects I was working on. I decided I could still go forward with some of my main projects (The Way of Kings as an example) but would set aside the smaller things. It was tough. It was worth it, but tough.
I'll still get to them someday.

***

heliosbird: Do you find it very difficult taking over Robert Jordan's work? Harder than your own novels?

Brandon: Much harder than my own novels. I have to be very careful to keep the character voices done his way, and keeping track of all of the side characters...wow. I write about about half speed on the wot as on my own books. Part of this is the great amount of reading/research I must do before writing a scene.

***

heliosbird: If asked to do the same for another author, would you do it again?

Brandon: I don't think I'd do it for anyone else. I said yes to RJ because I'd been reading the books since childhood, and was up to date on the series. I was also a good match. For example, I love Pratchett, but I'm a horrible match for his style. GRRM is a genius, but I'd be a bad match there too. Hopefully, neither author needs anyone to finish for them.

I once would have said yes to a Star Wars book. Now, I've been too displeased by (and critical of) Lucas's treatment of the prequels to ever do that.

***

Perene: I find it interesting that you as an up-and-comer in the F/SF genre have been thrust into this situation where you have taken the reigns of one of the biggest and best series to date. It seems to echo one of the biggest themes of the WOT where simple people like Rand, Perrin, and Egwene wind up in places of power and influence. Have you thought of this parallel between yourself and the series before, or am I just reading too deep?

Brandon: I think about this one a lot. Actually, if you'll look, you'll see one of the characters voicing my feelings on this burden as it's often best to write from experience.

***

Emma:
  1. How many of the Heroes of the Horn are currently "in the flesh"?
  2. How did the Eye of the World's location move about?
Brandon: Oh, wow. You're going to make me dig into the notes, aren't you?

Why don't I MAFO those? Send me an email and I'll dig through to get your answers, or will have Maria do it.

***

MattSteelblade: Is the Eye of the World movie and a Wheel of Time video game, really, really happening? IMDB says 2013 for a movie and Red Eagle has been saying for a few years that a game is in devleopment.

Brandon: I can only give one 'really' on either one. They are in the works, but anything coming out of Hollywood gets hesitance from me until we get a greenlight. (And there hasn't been one on the film, despite the projected release date. 2013 is possible.)

Video Games are more likely, but I haven't had any updates on those for a few months.

***

crucix: Are there any plans for another companion book for the Wheel of Time series?

Brandon: Yes. Harriet is doing a detailed encyclopedia. She was always intended to do this, not RJ himself, and they signed a deal for it before he passed away.

***

Warlizard: Will the series EVER END?

Edit: I swear, my wife is karmic poison. This was her question. She's a huge fan of the Wheel of Time but wants some resolution.

Brandon: Don't mind the downvoters, Warlizard. I'm sure people just are worried about me taking offense. They forget that I've been involved as a fan with this series for twenty years. I've felt the feeling you express several times during my history with the WoT--and I bet most of us have.

It WILL END. I am about halfway through the final book. I have told Harriet that would prefer that we not do any more books, as to not exploit RJ's legacy. Even if she decided to do those (the other two prequels RJ mentioned, for example) the real ending to the series is here.

Also, on another note, I've watched many of your posts and been interested in your publishing experiences. I find that you often have very useful things to say, and are a real strength to the reddit writing/publishing community. I don't always agree with you, but what you bring is very engaging. So thank you for what you do. I'm going to have to read one of your books, eventually. (I'm sorry that I haven't gotten to them yet.)

Warlizard: Thanks for the response. Just told my wife and she said, "Oh thank GOD!" It's a bit like watching Star Wars, having Empire finish up, then waiting 6 more books to find out if Darth Vader is REALLY his father.

I know there has to be vast pressure to continue writing books and not just because of the financial aspects. People want to read them more about that universe and it's hard to deny them that.

I don't mind the downvotes. Reddit has been pretty good to me and I wouldn't have put out any of my stories if the feedback hadn't been so strong and persistent. I always give away the books to Redditors first and put 'em up on Amazon second as a way of saying thanks.

I appreciate your kind words and if you'd like a copy of anything I've written, please feel free to PM me an email address were I can send them.

***

relevant_rule34: No questions Mr. Sanderson, just wanted to let you know that as a long time WoT fan I enjoyed your continuation of series and am looking forward to A Memory of Light.

With that said, this is a picture of Graendal and her large breasts in a black see-through gown - NSFW

Brandon: Wow. I don't know what to say. I never thought, being who I am, I'd get RR34'd. (That's not a challenge, mind you.)

Glad you like the books. I hope you don't mind that I've basically never clicked on one of your links... I'm pretty sure the one you're linking to here is one of Seamus's works, though, so let me point everyone to his print gallery. He has done some of my favorite all-time character portraits for the series. His Perrin, Faile, and Tuon--for example--are exactly as I imagine the characters.

nomoreink: Are you able to read all the way through Crossroads of Twilight without pulling out your hair?

Brandon: Ha. You know, I don't mind the book as much as most people do. As a writer, I'm interested in it for reasons that most wouldn't be. (The parallel nature of it, what about it drove people crazy, that kind of thing.)

***

galenblade: I know that Jordan left a lot of material behind, but have you ever run across something in that material that you've really wanted to change? Something you felt that thematically or otherwise didn't really fit?

Brandon: Because of the nature of RJ's notes and writing process, there are a lot of things I can (and was told I should) change. Harriet didn't say specifically "Change this." She told me "Jim (RJ) would not have done it exactly like this. You do what you think is best for the story first--that is your primary charge. Don't feel completely beholden to his notes, but respect his story."

That's kind of how I've done it. If the notes say something that I feel needs to change, I change it, but try to be respectful. An example is Egwene's dinner with Elaida. RJ had this planned as a single event. I split it into two chapters, separated by further discovery by Egwene and growth to earn the second half of the dinner.

There are many things like that. Places where RJ said "I'm going to do this, or maybe I'll do this, or maybe neither." I choose what fits for the story. It's usually one of the two, sometimes neither one works. I can be more specific once the last book is out.

That said, I wasn't particularly hip on writing Cadsuane spanking Semirhage. There was no good reason to change it, though. Jim had outlined the scene, and it was in line with the characters.

Dovienya: Okay, so I have this idea for Memory of Light. Hear me out.

I think you/Harriet/whoever should allow some sort of money raising contest to write a dedication for the book. Any money raised could go toward amyloidosis research (or maybe something else, if Jordan had some cause he really believed in).

You could run the contest one of two ways. First, an auction, which could potentially raise the most money. However, I've always hated these, since only people with tons of spending money ever have a chance.

Or you could charge everyone a flat price - $1, $5, something like that - and then your or Harriet could draw the winner from a hat or whatever.

Obviously you'd have to have some sort of disclaimer so that if the winner ended up being something like, "I hope we see Nynaeve smother Faile with her braid in this one," it could be ruled inappropriate.

Anyway, I just think it'd be a nice way to encourage reader interaction, raise money for a good cause, and give a lucky reader the chance to immortalize him- or herself in one of the most awesome, epic series of all time.

(I once gave this idea to Jason over at Dragonmount and he said I should suggest it to you or Harriet, but then I forgot about it. And now the opportunity to mention it has presented itself. Sorry, I couldn't resist.)

Brandon: That is a kinda cool idea. I'll think about it, but the thing is, I strongly feel that RJ would have dedicated the book to Harriet--and I kind of think that should be the case.

I'll consider it, but I'm more likely to auction off naming rights to a character or two to let people have a stamp on the book like you suggest and do something good, but not use the dedication. We shall see. I'll consider.

***

Wlraider70: Have you ever considered writing a book (or something) about the writing of the WoT?

I'd like to hear more about the process of compiling Jordan's notes and filling in the gaps. I'd also be really interested in seeing the manuscripts you started with from him and the final product.

Brandon: I'd really like to do this. I have considered it, and am interested. I don't think it would work like without being able to publish the notes, however. I'd want at least part of them. So I'd only do this if Harriet agreed.

***

Jezrien: Do you ever feel a real desire to just start on the Stormlight Archive 2? AMoL must have its perks to write but do you ever just want to get stuck in to book two?

Brandon: Yes, I do feel that desire to get on to Stormlight 2. However, this is not a new feeling. In every book--at about the 50% mark or so--I want to be moving on to the next book. By then, I've already done a lot of the exciting things in worldbuilding and discovering characters, but I'm not yet to the exciting ending.

This is a challenge for a lot of writers. I know Neil G. has spoken on it before. I have trained myself to remain focused on the project at hand.

***

Jezrien: Do you ever take breaks away from AMoL and go over notes and ideas for the next installment of the Stormlight Archive?

Brandon: Yes, I do take breaks and outline other projects (specifically Stormlight.) But not for long.

***

VardaNienna: On your Twitter you said that the bar for AMoL is around 48%, I just want to thank you for putting the effort the book deserves into it, and I was just wondering how long approximately it will take to finish writing? I just don't like guesstimating because I'm usually way off. Absolutely love your work!

Brandon: For a lot of books, I go faster and faster as I approach the ending.

My goal for this one is to be done November 8th, when I go on tour. That means doing about 5% a week, or 15k words. At six days a week, that's very doable. Assuming I don't do any more day-long reddit AMAs...

Fast speed for me is 4k a day. Slow is about 1.5k.

***

Matt Hatch: We see the know that Dragonmount was created when LTT killed himself. I've always thought this to be 100% an effect of the way he killed himself, but now I'm doubting that to be the whole story. In his death, did LTT's connection to the Land as the Dragon affect the earth in any way? Did his connection contribute to any of the destruction after his death, or even the creation of Dragonmount?

Brandon: His connection was an influence, but not the primary one. He really did build Dragonmount with the Power.

***

lamguin: Back in books 4-6, I forget exactly where, Elayne and Nynaeve did a dreamworld need walk to find something to tie the rebel Aes Sedai to Rand. They eventually found the Bowl of the Winds, but before they did, they were taken to the 'angreal storeroom in the White Tower. I ask with every intention of getting a RAFO; is this going to be brought up?

Brandon: RAFO!

***

NON-WOT STUFF

***

RankWeis:
The characters in Mistborn all have very French names. My girlfriend insists Vin's name is pronounced almost "Veh", as it would be in France, and I'm almost convinced. How do you pronounce it?

You've also mentioned that in Elantris, there was more to Seon's than what came out in the book (as far as a magic system, I believe). When you have to omit something like this, do you still consider it canon to the story? For example, if you were to write a sequel, would you feel obligated to stick with the original magic system you put into place (but never published), or would you be fine with drawing up a whole new one?

Brandon: The Central Dominance is intentionally French sounding. I say Vin's name like an American would, but everyone in world would say it with a French accent. Same goes for Kelsier, (which they would say Kel-syay.) Again, I say it as an American would, but then I'm not from the Central Dominance.

Yes, I consider the ideas around Seons to be canon, though I don't always canonize something that is not in the books. If it isn't on paper, I'm usually willing to change it as it needs to in order to fit. One issue, however, is that things like the Seons are part of the greater magic system of the Cosmere (which connects many of my works.) I can't change things too much, or I'll start contradicting myself. (Which I don't want to do.)

Loveggs: One further question on pronunciation- Sazed. Is it sayzd, sayzed, or sah-zahd? I always pictured the Terris people as somewhat Arabic so Sah-zahd came more naturally to me, but I'm curious as to what the intended pronunciation is.

Brandon: I say Sayzed, as does Kelsier. The Terris a is not as harsh as that, but it's not quite a soft "a" either.

***

staircasewit: You’ve mentioned some of the characters who we are going to see throughout the Stormlight Archive series (Shallan, Dalinar, Szeth, Jasnah, etc.). However, I don’t remember seeing you comment on Wit. Are we going to see Wit (or plain ol’ Hoid) more throughout the series? Or less? (Hopefully more! )

Brandon: Hoid has a large part of the story in the Stormlight Archive. You will be seeing much more of him. However, he will not get a 'book' of his own, most likely. He will get his own novels, just not among the Stormlight sequence.

***

staircasewit: In your unpublished career (or published too, I suppose), what did you do when you got a bit discouraged? Writing has a lot of ups and downs for me. Some days, the writing goes well and the sun seems to shine just a little brighter. But sometimes it can be disheartening, lonely, frustrating - yet still, somehow, an activity without equal. How did you get through those moments when the going got tough?

Brandon: I feel this too, to an extent. Every writer does. A few things really helped me. The first, and most important, was to decide once and for all that I was writing for ME. Not for a market, not for my friends, and not even to get published. For ME. I decided that even if I never sold a single book, I'd keep doing this until I died.

After that, I could focus only on the work. Now, that doesn't remove all of the feelings of depression, because it's still easy to feel that your writing quality is not what it should be. (Or that a story is broken, or that you just can't get past this certain point in a book.) The trick there was often to tell myself that I didn't have to put what I wrote on a certain day in the book. I just had to write. If it turned out terrible, that was okay. I could toss that scene and try another.

Coming to the realization that it was okay to fail was a big help to my writing.

***

staircasewit: I am in the same position you might have been ten-ish years ago. I have several fantasy novels under my belt. I don’t feel like I’m good enough to be published yet, though that is the dream. Do you have a recommendation as to when I should start sending stuff out? After I finish college? When I’ve written a million words (I’m chugging along at around 550,000 at the moment)? After I’ve written a book that’s at least a “7” on the scale of awesome that runs from zero to Knife of Dreams?

Brandon: If you have finished several novels, then it's time to go ahead and start sending things out. Many artists never quite feel that we're ready--we feel that the next book will be better, and we should wait until that one is done.

My suggestion: Take your most recent book, sit on it for six months while you work on something else. Then either workshop the book you set aside (if you like to workshop) or do one last draft. Then start sending it out. The worst that will happen is it will get rejected. Keep sending it out until you have gone to all of the major publishers, then decide if you want to go to the small presses.)

(Note, this is advice to those who prefer to publish traditionally, which I still think is viable. However, self publishing is also quite viable these days. I'll probably talk about that in another reply.) Also, keep in mind doing research about publishers, not just sending blindly. (I'll probably talk about this elsewhere too.)

***

Kaladin Stormblessed: Compared to many authors, you are just astoundingly dedicated to your fans. As your fame grows, are you finding that this close connection to your fans is becoming more difficult to maintain? Do you foresee yourself having to become more reclusive if your fanbase continues to grow?

Brandon: It is becoming...not a problem, but an issue I'm aware of. Basically, it means that instead of answering every person on Twitter/Facebook who contacts me, it means picking a little time each day and answering a handful of them. I feel bad about that, but I do want to maintain the interaction, so this seems the best way to do it.

I don't ever see myself becoming reclusive. I feel that in the sf/f community, a writer is part of a larger group of readers and thinkers. Those of us being paid to write are being directly supported by the community. I owe pretty much everything I have, including my ability to do what I love for so much of each day, to the readers.

***

Kaladin Stormblessed: Have you had any "crazy" or just odd fan encounters? Do people recognize/approach you on the street, or would you say that your fame is relatively low-key?

Brandon: Yes, a few, but they haven't really been that bad. Most are just awkward--but, having grown up as a sf/f nerd myself, I'm familiar with awkwardness. I have had people recognize me on the street, but only a handful of times.

Best story: I'm at the dentist, and I'm talking to the hygienist. One of the other hygienists--in the middle of working on some guy who has his mouth pried open by restraints--screams "Wait. You've got BRANDON SANDERSON over there?" She leaps up and leaves the poor fellow to come fangirl for a few minutes.

Being a writer, though, those moments are rare. My "fame" is really very low-key, unless I'm at a signing or the like.

***

Kaladin Stormblessed: What is your favorite kind of home-made cookie, and do you have any allergies that one should be aware of?

Brandon: LOVE oatmeal with butterscotch, toffy, or chocolate chips. (Or, well, really anything.) No allergies.

***

Halo6819: Do you think publishers will ever get behind the idea of selling a hardcover book with an e-book coupon inside? Before I got my nook I would usually get two hardcover copies of your books, one to be signed and never read (sit pretty on my shelf) and the second to be read and personalized. I still plan on buying two hardcover’s, but now prefer reading on my nook, but not sure if I want to spend another $15 for the convenience of keeping my book in my pocket and not having to remember what page I left off on.

Brandon: I certainly hope so. I actually lobbied hard to get it for The Way of Kings.

The problem was not desire, the problem was logistics. However, Baen has this down already. (I believe they sold a recent Honor Harrington hardcover with a CD inside that included ALL of the previous books in ebook for free.)

In fact, if you like ebooks and want to support publishers doing more with them in an DRM free way, go support the Baen Free Library. (My publisher, Tom Doherty and founder of Tor, is a silent partner in Baen, so we might see something similar for Tor eventually.)

I will work hard to get the ebook-hardcover combo working. I don't think it's too far off from happening for popular books. (Where the printing costs of adding a CD are lowered by huge print runs.)

***

demishade: Any chance you can PGP sign my ebook?

Brandon: Ha!

***

Manmark: Where did your idea for the Cosmere originate?

Brandon: I started this whole business wanting to write a big epic. However, I recognized that starting some huge series right out as a new author might not be the best decision. While it worked for some authors, I wanted to give people a few stand-alone novels and a trilogy or two to try me out before they got into something deeper. (IE, Stormlight.)

I also felt that it was easier to market myself to publishers with stand alone novels. (This proved to be very true, by the way.) But I still wanted to do a big epic. So, for my self and my own love of the concept, I started linking all of my books together into a 'secret' epic.

One other thing having to do with this was seeing some authors do it in a retcon kind of way, and always being slightly disappointed it hadn't been planned from the start. (See Asimov.) I felt that if I were ever going to do something similar, I wanted to lay the groundwork.

***

Manmark: Do you feel any sort of writer's block while writing, and what do you do to rekindle your inspiration?

Brandon: This post answers some of it. Basically, the best way for me to rekindle inspiration is to write a scene poorly and throw it away. That gets my mind working on how to actually fix the problem. Writer's block almost always goes away after I've tried a scene in a couple of different ways, sometimes from different perspectives, sometimes with wildly different 'takes' on the scene. I try to shake things up in a few of the takes.

If that doesn't work, then I look back and see if there's a fundamental problem with one of the characters. That's often how it is, as I 'grow' my characters. (I plan in detail plots and worlds, but let my characters develop in a more natural way.)

***

supahamir: How are you able to write so consistently?

Brandon: I see this phantom cubical chasing me, over my shoulder. If I slow down, it catches me, and I have to go get a regular job and become an insurance salesman or something.

IDontWorkForRailroad: Hey now, I sell insurance, it's not that bad!

Brandon: Ha. I knew someone would say this.

Let me put it this way--you're probably good at it. I'd be terrible. I'd be sitting and thinking of all the books I wanted to be writing all day. It would be miserable. Not because selling insurance is miserable, but because--for me--NOT writing would be.

***

supahamir: What do you do to prevent yourself from being distracted, and what do you do when you hit a block on something in a book you're writing?

Brandon: Well, sometimes I have to just close the browser (and the like fifty tabs worth of material I've found on reddit) and turn off the internet for a little while... Sometimes it's done by setting daily goals for myself (wordcount wise) and not letting myself go do fun things--video games, etc--until I've hit my wordcount.

Motivation isn't a huge problem for me. I keep coming back to the idea that writing, and telling stories, is what I like to do most in the world. Yes, it can be tough at times. It is work. But unless I'm writing each day and creating something, I feel like I just haven't accomplished anything.

As for writer's block, I did a couple of post on that already. Here and here.

Wlraider70: What games do you play, xbox or PS3?

Brandon: Both, but usually not on-line. I do it to unwind, and so getting yelled at by team-mates is not really high on my list, nor is the stress of being forced to compete against other players who have a LOT more time for such things.

Right now, playing the new Magic The Gathering game on Xbox and really liking it. Big improvement over the last one, which was okay.

***

Athara: Brandon, when are you coming to the Netherlands (or an other country in Europe for that matter)? I'd love to meet you some day...

Brandon: I was actually in the Netherlands this summer. (Sorry if I missed you.)

This goes for anyone else--if you want to know when I'll be visiting your area, drop me an email through my website and ask to be on the mailing list. (Also, tell me generally where you live.) I don't spam. I send out specific emails to people when I visit their country/city.

I'll be back in Europe this November to do a tour in the UK. I should be in France again next year. (I was there this summer, as well as last fall.)

Athara: Oh no! I can't believe I missed you! Where were you? I'll drop you an email. Thanks for your reply!

Brandon: It was kind of unannounced. I was in Paris traveling to Oslo in late May, and I had a 10 hour layover in Amsterdam. So I tweeted to people in the city, had my assistant send an email to any who were on my mailing list from the Netherlands, then went out and met everyone in the city and went to dinner with them. Then I signed books, went back to the airport, reclaimed my luggage and got on the plane. It was awesome.

***

Nolder: My question has to do with Warbreaker 2 should you ever choose to write it. Will you be releasing it piece by piece and then in its entirety for free online like you did with WB1?

Brandon: Yes, I will be.

mgowen: Wait... what!? We already have Warbreaker 1 to recommend to friends as a free trial of your work.

Not that I'm complaining, but why make W2 free too?

Brandon: Because it was a part of the experience of writing the book for me. It is something I'd like to try again. (Releasing the book chapter by chapter as I write it.)

beetnemesis: Was the Warbreaker experiment successful? By which I mean, were there more, less, or as many sales as, say, Elantris?

Brandon: More than Elantris or MB1/MB2 initially, not as many as MB3. Now it's about even with Elantris. (Expected. Mistborn has the series boost, which makes the entire trilogy sell about double what Elantris or Warbreaker do.)

***

puckthepirate: Do you listen to music when you write? What are you currently listening to?

Brandon:Yes. I use various Pandora stations for different moods.

Right now, it's one based on Tangerine Dream.

***

bjh13: Any plans to write in another genre such as mystery or historical fiction?

Brandon: Not currently. Anything I think of that is in another genre usually transforms into sf/f by the end. So, there will probably always be at least SLIGHT sf/f elements. I could see myself doing a Jurassic Park style thriller, though.

***

FirstRyder: Which of the many fight scenes you have written would you most like to see done in film?

Brandon: I wouldn't mind seeing the Kelsier/Inquistior confrontation in Mistborn done in film.

***

som1else: Is Allriane really Cett's daughter? Skaa have to have Allomancy in the past six generations to get Allomancy and Cett says that she is the first person in their family to get Allomancy for centuries.

Brandon: Yes, she is. Good thinking, though.

***

basstrace: Is Sazed the "Seventeenth Shard", as referred to in the epigraphs of part two of The Way of Kings?

Brandon: Those who are speaking about it below are leading you the right way. Sazed is not the Seventeeth Shard. Whether he's IN the Seventeenth Shard is another question. It is an organization.

***

Nolder: I've been to a couple of your signings and I know you love to get MTG cards as gifts from your fans. Is there anything else you like?

Brandon: I never say no to cookies or the like.

***

Volrik: Is there an element of fantasy writing that you particularly enjoy or dislike? For example, do you like worldbuilding more or less than individual character development, or are they "different but equal"?

Brandon: Different but equal depending on the stage. I love planning worlds, but I prefer to discovery write characters. (See here for more info.)

During the writing of a book, the character moments are the best. During the planning, the worldbuilding parts are the best.

***

Volrik: Is there anything you want a reader to notice when they pick up one of your books for the first time? Like, do you want people to take note of how you address social themes, or appreciate your particularly clever uses of language, or just enjoy the damn book?

Brandon: I don't look to inject specific social agendas into my books. If anything, I try very hard to approach concepts like that from multiple angles, as I believe it is through discussion and thought that progress is made. So, I don't mind if people see the issues, but I hope that it's the characters (who feel differently about those issues) that take the stage. let the character passions decide what the themes of a book will be.

In the end, I really want people to enjoy the ride and perhaps think about some questions as viewed by people who are different from themselves. My grand aspiration is not about changing the world, so much as learning to tell stories about characters who feel real.

***

Remagoen: When plotting a series of books, how do you account for plot changes you didn't foresee you had to do? For instance, I read that Elend was originally going to be a minor character, but the end of Mistborn wouldn't have been the same without him. How did you work him into the plot later on without breaking the story?

Brandon: After I wrote the first book, and Elend grew more important in my mind, I reworked the three-book-outline. Usually, when I build a series, I spend a lot of time on the first book and then have a few paragraphs on the rest. Then, after finishing the first book and seeing how it worked (and how the tone was) I go and do much more in-depth outlines for the rest of the series.

When the first book is happening, things are much more 'anything goes' as I don't have any established cannon yet. I allow myself to toss the rest of the outlines out the window, and just try to make the first book the best it can be. From there, I have continuity, and I feel it is important to maintain that for the integrity of the series.

***

insertcleverphrase: I know from reading your blog and various other comments that many of your books are in the same cosmos/universe, specifically Mistborn, Elantris, Warbreaker, and Way of Kings. I also am pretty sure that one day you'd like to do a series that ties all the different series/books together into one super-series. So my question is, would the various magic systems work on different worlds? For example, would a Mistborn be able to use his/her abilities in the world Way of Kings is located on?

Brandon: It depends on the magic system. They are all related to a kind of "Spiritual DNA" that one gets from their heritage on a specific planet. However, there are ways around that. (Hemalurgy, for example, 'staples' a piece of someone else's soul to your own, and creates a work around to give you access to magic you shouldn't have.) Some of the magics are more regionally tied than others. (In Elantris, you have to access the Dor, which is very regionally influenced.)

The end answer is this: With in-depth knowledge of how the magics work, and their connection, one could probably get them all to work on other planets. It may take effort for some of them.

***

radda: Will Stormlight 2 have more Shallan? I require more Shallan.

Brandon: Much more Shallan. It's probably going to be her 'flashback' book.

***

ISw3arItWasntM3: What is your feelings regarding the reception of the ending to the Mistborn Trilogy? From my experience online it seems that this was the most heavily criticized part of the series.

Brandon: Most of what I've heard has been positive, in a hesitant way. If someone is going to have a complaint, it's going to be about the ending. However, they usually admit it was the right ending in the same email or post. The bittersweet nature of it bothers many people, however.

***

ISw3arItWasntM3: Do you plan to write the stormlight archive books with the same POV characters throughout the series (like WoT) or do you think that you give other characters POV (aSoIaF) as the series continues?

Brandon: Most of the main POV characters have been introduced. Each book will take one major character (Kaladin, Dalinar, Adolin, Jasnah, Shallan, Navani, Szeth, Taln) and give them 'flashback' sequences in the same way Kaladin got flashbacks in the first book. There are some open spots for which I'm toying with other characters being used.

Other characters will get viewpoints now and then, but I feel that one of the ways that big series get off track is by changing the focus to side characters. (Note that I will continue doing the Interludes to give some other voices and perspectives screen time. Few of these will be main characters.)

oditogre: This problem, more than any other thing, 'broke' 3 of the biggest fantasy series for me (you can probably guess which ones) - I gave up on each of them partway through.

I liked Mistborn, but honestly I hadn't planned on even giving Stormlight Archive a chance because I assumed it would do the same type of thing as those other series. Knowing what you said above, I'm going to have to pick up that first book, now.

Brandon: I'm hoping it will work. If I can do it right, and each main character gets a book of their own, it should keep me on track.
The sprawl gets reduced, in theory, as each book has its own specific focus. You get a little of each main character in each book, but one takes center stage and you get a full story with them. (Flashbacks to their past, getting them to the first book, and a depth of story for their narrative in the novel.)

If you do read the book, one of the things I do to try to keep this all from going out of control is I write what are called "Interludes." Most of these (all but the ones about a character named Szeth) are essentially short stories in the world, about characters you don't have to remember or learn. They add depth, expand the plot, but are set off as their own thing with a specific sort of "This won't be on the final" sort of feel.

***

ISw3arItWasntM3: Strangest encounter with a fan?

Brandon: Oh, I had one follow me to the car asking me questions after a signing that went until eleven. It's not all that strange, but it was kind of tiring at the time.

***

ISw3arItWasntM3: What are 5 epic fantasy series or stand alone books you'd recommend?

Brandon: Suggestions (Not including my work, or Wheel of time, which are given.) 1) Tigana. Genius. Actually, most everything by Guy Kay. 2) Melanie Rawn's Sunrunner books. (Warning, they're a little romancy.) 3) Jim Butcher's Codex Alera.
4) Dragonsbane, Barbara Hambly. (The book that got me into fantasy.) 5) Name of the Wind.

***

Angry Caveman Lawyer: Who do you enjoy reading?

Brandon: I like reading very widely, however my first love of sf/f basically holds the majority of my reading time. It kind of rubs me wrong when I hear of an author who doesn't read in their own genre. It feels like a doctor, not caring to stay up to date on what other doctors are doing.

My favorite living writer is Terry Pratchett. Most recently, I read a big chunk of the Hugo-nominated works this year so that I could vote intelligently on the awards.

***

Angry Caveman Lawyer: How do you shape your heroes? To the plot or do you shape the plot to them? (I guess this is a which came first question...)

Brandon: I usually design my plot in some detail before I begin. (Though not in as much detail as the world, which I spend a LOT of time on.) I build it using the idea of focus scenes--powerful, game-changing scenes that I imagine cinematically and then try to 'earn' though building my plot.

Once that is done, I start my book with the characters. Characters, I grow organically. In writing terms, we speak of what we call "outline" writers and what we call "discovery" writers. (GRRM calls them "Architects" and "Gardeners.") I outline write my settings and to a lesser extent my plots, but I discovery write my characters.

In doing so, once I start the book, the character takes center stage. They have, at any point, the right to change the plot in any way to fit what they would actually do. I will often try a few different 'characters' in a lead role when starting a book. For example, there were three different Vins I tried out for Mistborn. The first one (which was a boy) did not work. The second one (a female) did not work either. It was the third time that I got her right.

***

Angry Caveman Lawyer: What's the coolest thing you've purchased since you've become a famous writer? (cheesy question, but hey, why not?)

Brandon: Power Nine Magic Cards. I've always wanted them, and so I finally said, "You know, I had the #1 selling epic fantasy book in the world last year. I can probably afford these now..."

I'm not much of a spender, though, so it actually was kind of tough to get myself to do it. I love having them, though. (And yes, I'm a nerd. That chick from Gizmodo would TOTALLY have written something snide about me.)

***

leaf25: Are you planning to visit any counties other than UK and France in Europe any time soon?

Brandon: I'm afraid that the soonest would be a year from now, when I plan to visit the continent again and hope to get to Germany and a few other countries I haven't visited yet. My trips to Taiwan and Australia next spring are going to dominate all of my travel time.

***

coroner4: What I really like is how you can go on your website and for every book, you have a "bonus" section. Annotations, deleted scenes, maps, and so many other goodies. My question is how much time do you spend on this? I understand it's part of the writing process, but it takes time to gather all the info and present it like this. Do you think it's worth it? (I surely do, so I hope you will keep on doing it). Thanks!

Brandon: It does take a lot of time, but I feel it is worth it. My readers directly support me in this job. I feel I want to give them the most bang for their buck, so to speak, in return.

***

LionofLannister: What was your opinion of A Dance with Dragons?

Brandon: I think GRRM is a genius, and I read Game of Thrones specifically to try to learn from his wonderful use of character. However, the brutality of it (Daenerys specifically) while beautiful on one hand, was just too much for me. Perhaps some day I'll read the rest.

***

MindCanaries: Are Shardblades the physical form of one of the Shardholder's on Roshar (much as we saw the physical form of a Shardholder play a role in Mistborn)?

Brandon: Answer is forthcoming in one of the future books.

***

MindCanaries: Why did you settle on a Nicrosil Misting for your second Mistborn trilogy? Did you consider any other types?

Brandon: I considered others, but in the end this was one aspect of the magic system I hadn't explored yet but which is very important for the future of the series. I wanted to start establishing it.

***

MindCanaries: Will we see any Shardholders beyond the three already at work? Specifically, will we see Bavadin?

Brandon: You will see other Shards. Bavadin is on the planet Taldain, where White Sand takes place.

***

MindCanaries: Is Peter employed by you, or by Tor? I suspect that you CHOSE him, but what I mean is did they offer to pay an assistant and you hired them, or is it something you did on your own?

Brandon: Employed by me. It is something I did on my own.

***

MindCanaries: I am coming to the Seattle signing for Alloy of Law. Do you think you'll have time for MTG on this tour? Should I bring my cards? =D

Brandon: I'll bring mine, but I've got to be frank with you. In Seattle it's hard to find time to play, since I usually end up visiting Google or Microsoft, then going to dinner with friends. (Ken lives there, for example.) So...I'll try, but I can't make promises.

***

RedBeardRaven: I really enjoyed Warbreaker, in fact I bought the hard copy when it first came out, and I would love to see another book in this world. The way that it ends is an obvious gateway into another adventure and leaves with so much potential. Have you ever thought about going back to expand on this world?

Brandon: There will be a second book in the series (though that is the end) eventually.

***

RedBeardRaven: This question is kind of multi leveled. I recently read that you are having both a game (pen and paper rpg/possibly video game later down the road) and movie of Mistborn come out/in the works. Would you be willing to expand the story(ies) in Mistborn to accommodate more installments? Are you willing to compromise things for the big corporation changes that normally come from this type of adaptations? If so, how/what?

Brandon: For the video game, RPG, I am quite involved. In these, the goal is to expand on the world and story, not just retell the original trilogy. The video game, for example, will happen in the past of the world, closer to the founding of the Final Empire. As for the film, I am as involved as I can be--but that's not always very much, where the writer is concerned. I think the risk is worth the potential payoff, but it IS a risk. The film could be a terrible adaptation. I like the producer/screenwriter, however, and so far I've been very involved.

***

RedBeardRaven: Gaming seems to be a decent chunk of your life. Has any games, in specific, influenced your writing or world/magic system creation? (I assume Magic The Gathering has a good influence on some of this, but I just wanted to ask)

Brandon: Oh, boy. Hard to say, since I've been playing many of them since childhood. Often, I find myself reacting against their magic systems, since I feel that books need to do things differently than games do. However, the rule-based nature of my magic systems may owe a nod to Palladium's systems. (Which I have always enjoyed very much.)

***

douchebag karren: How much do you plot out before writing, and how much simply comes while writing?

Brandon: I plot a medium amount, focused on goals. I usually build my outline backward. I decide what I want to happen, I write that event down, then I write bullet points beneath it to lay the groundwork of what would have to happen for it to occur. This is a fluid thing, and often changes as I write the book. However, I keep the outline current.

***

douchebag karren: Do you edit as you go, or write a whole draft, then go back and change things?

Brandon: I do very little self-editing as I go. I feel it's important for me to lay down a draft to work with before I start tweaking. The exception is if a character just isn't working. (See my other answer on discovery writing.) In that case, I will sometimes go back, tear the character out and replace them.

***

douchebag karren: What advice would you give to less successful, or unpublished writers?

Brandon: Write. I wrote thirteen books before I sold one. I'll bet you can do better than that. Just keep at it. The only way to improve is to practice. Treat your early writing like a pianist, learning to play scales. Don't think of it as work you have to sell, think of it as your practice jam sessions where you get your feet underneath you. Don't stress too much if it doesn't go as you want. You'll learn.

***

b4dave: My question is, why are they called Shardblades/Shardplate? Is it because they are a splinter of the the Shard Honor, or is there something more to them than that?

Brandon: You are on the right track.

***

slyth: You've been publishing at an amazing rate for several years, though I understand you've largely exhausted your "buffer" -- the books you had written before becoming a published author.

Brandon: I wrote 13 before I got published. Warbreaker, The Way of Kings, and Mistborn all took pieces of already written works. (Though I started from scratch in all three cases, stealing out the 'best' of their respective unpublished versions.) I still have two of these (White Sand and Aether of Night) that have good enough magic systems or concepts that the will see publication (in one form or another) eventually.

demishade: If you do happen to croak before your time, take care on which letter(s) your face ends up on. The fandom will be overanalyzing your choice for years to come.

***

slyth: Can you keep your current pace? Is it too exhausting?

Brandon: I cannot keep the current pace, as proven by 2011 having only one book release and 2012 likely only having one as well.

***

slyth: How many books do you think you'll be able to publish in the next 10 years?

Brandon: I would like to get back to one long book (in a series, probably) and one short book (an experimental work) a year, as I did during the early years.

***

slyth: Will you please continue to write until they nail your coffin shut, just like RJ?

Brandon: I want, when I die, them to find me sitting in my chair with my face having fallen on the keyboard and having just typed seven thousand pages worth of the letter 'Z.' In this way, I'll have written even after I die.

demishade: If you do happen to croak before your time, take care on which letter(s) your face ends up on. The fandom will be overanalyzing your choice for years to come.

Brandon: Yeah. My kids will probably try to publish it as my final novel...

***

eri pl: About Way of Kings: some Surgebindings have strangely similar symbols - left half of one is the right half of another. There are two such pairs. Is that important, or just a coincidence or something?

Brandon: I don't believe there is any connection there.

***

eri pl: Is Jezren a Sliver?

Brandon: Jezrien is one of the Heralds, but has never held the power of an entire Shard himself. (So no, not a Sliver.)

***

Thomas Dare: As an aspiring writer I love picking the brain of published authors. My question to you is, how much do you outline before you begin writing? I've read some interviews where some authors, (Stephen King for example) does it all in his head and then writes from what he remembers, then others seem to outline almost every detail and then fill in the dialogue as they go. Do you lean one way or the other, or are you completely different in how you approach the pre-writing preparation? Thanks so much.

Brandon: I've answered this several places. Here is one of them. If you search for "outline" and "discovery" you'll find some other things I've said. However, on a scale of Outline to No Outline my worlds are on the far left, my plots in the middle, and my characters on the right.

***

RattusRattus: It seems if you're not lurking on Reddit, you're either giving advice to someone on r/writing, or offering someone a book on r/books. Does interacting with readers and writers help motivate you? How important do you think community is when it comes to relatively solitary activities like reading and writing?

Brandon: That's a great observation, one that I don't think a lot of people see. Writing is very solitary. Having some interaction, even faceless, is good for me. Beyond that, when trying to break in, I got a lot of good advice from established writers. I feel that in writing--sf/f particularly--there's a feeling that we're all in it together. There's a great tradition of the pros helping the newer writers, and I want to continue it.

***

Yserbius: What made you decide on a 10 book length for The Stormlight Archive? Do you have the entire thing planned out, including how it will be paced and plotted?

Brandon: I had eight characters I wanted to tell a story about, and wanted to give each one a book to include flashbacks and specific character development. Once I got to outlining, I realized that I had material for about ten books, and ten was a very special number in the world. So I settled on that. It will be paced and plotted much as the first, though I plan the future books to be a little shorter than the first establishing one. There will be two primary five-book arcs, so you could consider it two series of five, if you'd prefer.

***

Yserbius: Can we get your breakdown and opinion on the character development of Sazed and how you compare to him? I think he's one of the most philosophically interesting characters I have read in a while.

Brandon: Getting Sazed right was actually quite hard for the last book. (The annotations speak in depth about this.) My first major revision of the book was to work on Sazed's character and personality in that novel. He and I think similarly in many ways, though he is far more emotional than I am. I have never had as serious a bout of depression as he faced in that book, though he and I have some similar perspectives on religion.

***

Yserbius: WHO IS HOID?

Brandon: A character from my books. (/trollface)

***

krizazy: So, what question that you have never been asked would you like to be asked, and what's the answer? If you don't have any, then what drugs did you and Ken Jennings do in college to become so good in your areas of relative expertise?

Brandon: Ha. You know, the question I dread most is the "What should I be asking you?" question. I can never think of anything. I think, with both Ken and myself, the trick was just following our hearts and being lucky, both in large measure.

***

WSB: Do soothing and rioting work on a telepathic or physiological level (or both)?

Brandon: Primarily telepathic, though the body does respond physiologically. After the Soother is gone, the emotion remains for a time, so long as it was a natural emotion. Strong soothing/riotings against a person's nature can wear off quickly, and the body react (sometimes) with a strong opposite emotion in response. A very good Soother/Rioter can inspire emotions that begin telepathic only, but then have a response in the body, so the emotion gets more cemented.

***

som1else: How often is a "weeping" in Way of Kings?

Brandon: Once a year. Opposite it in the year is an extremely powerful highstorm.

eri pl: When, relatively to the events in Way of Kings is/will be the nearest Weeping? (I ask, because I started wondering, if this powerful storm was, coincidentally, the one, during which... you know... the face in the clouds and all that.)

Brandon: Well, there are ten months in year. If I haven't mentioned dates in the last book (I may or may not have) I am planning to in the next. So a timeline should be possible for fans to figure out...

***

adbarney: Which Korea mission did you serve in?

Brandon: Seoul West under President Swain.

***

leaf25: Can you give us any updates on the (hopefully) upcoming Mistborn game? Same question for the movie deal you twitted about quite some time back.

Brandon: Which one? Pen and paper RPG or video game?

Pen and paper is done. Coming out this fall, probably. I am hoping to go to Gencon next year to support it.

Video Game deal has not been signed yet, but contract negotiations are done and we should sign soon. I can give more details then.

Movie deal: An actor for Vin has been tentatively attached, though it's very preliminary. Screenplay is done, and I got the latest draft in July. It's quite good.

***

Quafe: You have, undoubtedly, mastered the fantasy genre. Do you ever see yourself writing science fiction? I ask because I remember reading two or three years ago on TWG that your plan is to make the second Mistborn trilogy set in a steampunk/industrialized world and the third and final trilogy in a more sci-fi setting. So I'm just wondering if that plan still holds.

Brandon: Both of my novellas linked above are SF. I do plan to do SF in the future. The final Mistborn trilogy will indeed be sf, with a deep understanding of Allomancy and Feruchemy having allowed them to figure out a method of FTL travel. I also have a space opera I've been wanting to write. So far, no time.

***

Dovienya: Just out of curiosity - which subreddits are you subscribed to?

Brandon: Oh, boy. A lot.

Many of the standards, but not politics or atheism. May of the writing related, fantasy and sf. Artisan and artisan videos. Depthhub (love it) and true reddit (also very good.) In depth stories, food for thought. First world problems always makes me laugh. F7U12 is a guilty pleasure. Parenting, specart, LDS. Most of the the ones dedicated to my work or the wot. Worldbuilding. And some others like unto the ones above.

***

Chaos2561: Can Hoid jump through time? If so, can Shards jump through time?

Brandon: Hoid, so far, has only moved forward in time. He has not 'lived' all of those years, but has used some time dilation techniques. That said, he is far older (both in relative and real time) than a normal person can live.

***

Chaos2561: Allomancy provides many very dramatic effects, which some have noted is not very much like Preservation. Could you walk me through how Allomancy is of Preservation, though it does dramatic, dynamic things?

Brandon: One of the 'basics' of the magic in all of the worlds is that the energy of Shards can fuel all kinds of interactions, not just interactions based on their personality/role. I did this because otherwise, the Magics would all be extremely limited.

The 'role' of the Shard has to do with the WAY the magic is obtained, not what it can do. So, in Preservation's case, the magic is a gift--allowing a person to preserve their own strength, and rely upon the strength granted by the magic. While Hemalurgy has a huge cost, ending in net entropy.

***

Chaos2561: I'm curious whether there is a deeper significance here than Preservation simply needing to be Ruin's opposite.

Brandon: Yes, there is, but I can't talk about it now.

***

Chaos2561: It's a little odd that Preservation would inherently give up its power to fuel Allomancy, because you'd think he would preserve himself, you know? Does that make sense?

Brandon: Preservation, as a Shard, is about preserving life, people, and the like. Not about self. No more than Ruin is about destroying self, or Cultivation is about growing herself.

***

wishanem: How would you say that your relgious beliefs influence your writing? Have you received any criticism from your coreligionists for the content of your novels?

Brandon: Being a person who is, myself, religious, I am fascinated by religion and all of its different effects and mindsets. This is why you see me exploring religious characters, and those who are not religious, in my books. The different ways people look at these things are fascinating to me.

One of my core ideas when it comes to writing is that I feel I should express all sides of an issue, and try to do so well. I can't do every side in every book, but I try to be aware of my own biases. I think this actually has to do with my core religious nature--as one of my fundamental beliefs is that if something is right, it should be able to stand up to STRONG arguments opposing it, not just weak ones. Without strong opposition, there cannot be a discovery of truth.

I have received all kinds of criticism, from all sides. I have gotten emails from people who will not read my books because I am LDS, and from others who feel I am far too liberal in my writing, and should be advocating a certain view.

Usually, I don't pay much heed. The exception is with the Wheel of Time, where I try to be extra careful, as I don't want my own bias to take control of Mr. Jordan's series.

***

aspectual: Do you ever plan to re-write or release White Sand? I loved it when you sent it to me and am dying to know, also White Sand sequel?

Brandon:
I will write that book again, I promise. However, I cannot embark on too many series at once. So perhaps I will do it after Stormlight, but before digging into the next main Mistborn sequence.

***

aspectual: How awesome is Dan Wells' new ebook?

Brandon:
Imagine a the most awesome real life creature you can think of. (A shark, obviously.) Then think of the most awesome feature someone can have. (A manly beard, obviously.)

This book is a great white shark with a epic manly beard that is circling [insert political figure you hate] getting ready for the kill. It's that awesome.

***

sblinn: Is The Alloy of Law something that someone who has not read the previous Mistborn novels will feel lost in, or is it a place that new readers can jump into the world?

Brandon: It was written as a new place people can enter. It has only slight spoilers for the original trilogy, most of which a new reader won't realize are spoilers until they've read the original trilogy.

***

FirstRyder: This series will apparently be 10 books long, and for in-world reasons having it end up 9 or 11 books long would be inauspicious. Do you think you'll regret setting a pretty firm length on it, fifteen years down the road?

Brandon:
Honestly, I'll let myself drop by a few books if the story demands. I won't inflate it to ten if, in the long run, the story just can't hold it up. Right now, though, I've got a really solid outline.

It's ten books, though in my mind, there are really two five book arcs.

***

FirstRyder: Hey, when's that second book coming, anyway? 2013?

Brandon:
2013, I'm afraid. I'll start on it at the end of this year, but these books are big and take a lot out of me. Even if I finish it late next year, early 2013 is a realistic publication date.

***

FirstRyder: Turn about is fair play: can you think of anyone who you would choose to take over if you were for whatever reason unable to finish the series?

Brandon:
There are plenty of great authors. Pat Rothfuss would be my first choice, but I doubt he would be the right one, as he has his own series and our writing styles are different enough. It would probably be someone newer at the time, like I was. All of the authors I can think of (Weeks, Butcher) are too busy in their own right to want to deviate by jumping into someone else's huge series.

***

stormingthecastle: As readers, we hear a lot about your writing process. But could you talk a little bit about your revision process?

Brandon: I am a goal-based revisionist. I come up with a list of things I want to fix, I rank them in order of import, then I go through the book and read it page one until the end, fixing as I go. Every revision also has the goal of cleaning up the language and fixing the line-by-line.

***

stormingthecastle: How do you take a book like the Way of Kings through a writing group? Surely chapter-by-chapter critiques, which seem to be the norm, would take years!

Brandon: The writing group agreed to accept 15k chunks for KINGS so I could get it out on time.

***

stormingthecastle: Do you still have your beard from ComicCon?

Brandon: Still have it.

whattothewhonow: Question about the beard: Do you think it has the potential to rival Patrick Rothfuss's?

Brandon: Ha. No, no, probably not. I'm going to grow it out long enough to do some pictures with my brother, who wants some shots of the two of us with big curling mustaches. Then I'll trim it down. I don't like bushy beards; they get in the way of things.

***

biorcit: I've seen in your answers to previous questions that you are always open to changing aspects of your story so long as it's not already written in another book, or more importantly so that it doesn't contradict what the reader already knows.

That being said, how much of the Cosmere and its story would you say you already have a plan for? For example, do you more or less already know how each world and story ties into one another, or is that something that changes as you write? Given that there seem to be some constants in this universe (the number of shards, etc.), is there an end to these stories as a whole, or is it an ever-expanding universe?

Brandon: Things do change as I evolve as a writer. There is an end to this story. Dragonsteel-Kings-Mistborn are all fairly well planned out, but I must allow myself flexibility.

***

kmolleja: I've noticed some similarities between the father-son pairs of Dalinar/Adolin and Mormon/Moroni, was that intentional or did it creep in subconsciously? The M/M relationship is an incredibly powerful one for me and I'm glad to see it pop-up in unexpected places.

Brandon: That's not intentional, but it could certainly be unconscious influence.

cfornia25: Very interesting thought. One I never considered, but will think about further. I've heard Brandon talk about these characters and he said that originally there was no Adolin. Dalinar was the only character speaking to both the belief and doubt of what he was experiencing. Brandon's Writing Group gave feedback that having one character flip-flop like that wasn't working, so Brandon developed Adolin to help express those doubts. What a great way to solve a problem, and the result is a wonderful relationship that immitates many powerful Father/Son stories. So, I would guess that the parallel you mentioned wasn't intentional, but as writers, of course, that which we believe, read and experience will find itself, unwittingly, on the page.

Brandon: You're ALMOST right. Adolin wasn't a viewpoint character initially, but he was in the book during the draft you're talking about. (The one where I had to fix things.) But if I go back to Dalinar, the character, back in his origin (before I wrote the way of kings the first time, back in 2002) he did not have a son. It was his relationship with his brother and nephew (needing to take over the kingdom for a beloved brother who died, and rule it for a nephew--then have concerns about giving up power, and how much he should take) that was the origin of Dalinar.

***

FallingSnowAngel: How can a writer with a good book make connections with publishers?

Brandon: Easiest way in sf/f is to attend conventions--World Fantasy convention, which is professionally oriented, being the best. Worldcon is good too, as is the Nebula Weekend.

***

terron james
: I am a fellow local author and my first novel just debuted on July 31, 2011. Would you consider me as a candidate for your podcast? If so, how do I go about setting up the air-time?

Also, what avenues have you found to be most successful for promoting your personal writings?

Brandon: Send me an email. I'd be happy to consider you. We record in batches, these days, because we need to fly Mary out to join us. Next batch is in November.

I found the best promotion was to visit bookstores, meet with their science fiction or fantasy reader on staff, and give them a free book. Other than that, writing great books, trying to have an active website, and avoiding the 'pushy' self-promotion methods such as thread hijacking or the like.

terron james: I suppose I should probably post a link to myself so you know who I am... TerronJames

Brandon: The only self-published person we've had on was Larry Correia, and that was after he had a book deal (I think) so it might be good to have you on and talk about the self-publishing process. I'll have to run it by the others. Can you send me a digital copy to look over?

***

shokker: How do you find the time to connect with your fans online so often while moving forward so quickly on AMoL and flying all around the country for book signings and panels? I have never seen an author so dedicated to... for lack of a better term... customer satisfaction.

Brandon: I work long hours. Fortunately, I love to do it.

***

Koryu Obihiro: What were your most major influences for writing? Writers, personal experiences, values, beliefs, concepts...these are the things that I'm curious about when I read your novels.

Brandon: 1) Being annoyed at the same story being told again and again in fantasy. 2) Loving books that did rule-based magic systems with an almost scientific feel. (Melanie Rawn is a good example here.) 3) Wanting to have cinematic fight sequences. (Film influence there. See Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon and its ilk.) 4) Loving the deep third person viewpoint as done by people like Robert Jordan, where everything you see is filtered though the eyes of a distinctive character.

***

zackbelow: How many books to you anticipate writing for Stormlight Archives? Please write like 200 of them.

Brandon: It is planned as two arcs of five, though I will shrink or increase if needed.

***

Mongolor: Your take on "Fantasy" is very unique, and honestly I want to know your inspiration for the "magic" of your worlds.

Mistborn Allomancy has the feel of good old Newtonian Physics, push pull and equal and opposite reactions.
Stormlight brings more laws of Physics into the realm of magic.

Do you have a background in Physics? Or is it just a source of inspiration for your worldbuilding?

Brandon: I do have a science background (biochemstry, actually. Wish I'd picked physics.) I did move to English after a couple of semesters, as I decided I wanted to be a writer. But I've always been an armchair scientist.

My inspirations are a mix of authors (mentioned in other posts if you look) and my love of the era in human history when science was a wonder. If you look back at the early discoveries in science, there's this feel that it's a boundless frontier with a magic all its own. That fascinates me, and I love writing about similar things happening in worlds with physics that deviate from our own.

***

MattSteelblade: I read A Song of Fire and Ice by George R. R. Martin because on the front cover there was praise for the book from Robert Jordan. Are there any books that you would recommend?

Brandon: Many. I posted a list above.

To add to the list: Brent Weeks, Robin Hobb, Pratchett (whom I love, but don't start with the first), Daniel Abraham (warning, some people find him very slow.) Read and really enjoyed the Hundred Thousand Kingdoms recently.

The thing about suggesting books, however, is that it's hard to make suggestions unless I know what someone likes. Someone who loves GRRM will probably like Joe Abercrombie and Scott Lynch, but might find Babara Hambly to be too bland. On the other hand, someone who likes Robin Hobb may find Hambly right up their alley. It's tough to judge. But those are authors I've liked. (Oh, and Erikson is quite good too; I just haven't read enough of him yet to feel like I'm doing him justice.)

***

PoleMiXx2: My question is about the creation of chapters. How do you organize a chapter itself and its place in the overall continuum of the story?

Just began listening to your writing excuses podcast, btw. I learned about it thanks to Reddit. Great stuff!

Brandon:
I organize a chapter by having a goal in mind. Usually, I have couple of goals. "In this chapter, I want to accomplish X, Y, Z." Usually, they are small things. "Introduce this character" or "Show these two people not getting along" or "reveal this little tiny secret about what is happening."

I get three or four of those together, think about which viewpoint is going to be most interesting (usually, but not always, the person who is doing the most and discovering the most,) and try to pick a setting that--if it's not set already--will be different from nearby scenes. Then I go, trying to build a rise to a climax (however small) within that scene.

That's how it is for most middle chapters. End chapters are different, where the pace grows more frantic, and I split scenes into smaller bits, jumping about to keep the pace feeling exciting.

***

nomoreink: Why do you feel Mistborn: The Final Empire was successful when there are hundreds (maybe even thousands) of other fantasy novels out there that failed?

Brandon: 1) Biggest factor, luck. I'm not the best writer out there. Better writers have had less success. I got lucky. 2) I am a big fan of the genre, and feel that I understood (not intentionally, but just because of what I was) the frustrations of epic fantasy readers with things not happening in the genre. I naturally wrote books that went different ways, and these drew attention. 3) Enough of a personal stamp to stand out.

***

frodo lives: Because of the way the third Mistborn novel ended... How do your religious beliefs, whatever they might be, play into your writing? (which makes me squeal like a fan girl I might add).

Brandon: I've answered this question in part above. In a deeper answer, in regards to the way MB3 ended, some of what I personally believe made an appearance because of my similarity to Sazed as a person.

***

deuce mcgee: When did you originally decided that you were going to link up all your worlds in this overarching Cosmere? It's seems like a pretty epic feat to have so much stuff related between all your seemingly different novels, only to tie them together bit by bit. I've never heard of an author doing this on a scale quite like yours before. What gave you this idea / inspiration?

Brandon: Covered here I think. Let me know if that answers it.

(And yes, it's a big feat. But, in part, I'd never seen it done before except in an after-the-fact retcon, as King and Asimov both did. Those were cool, but I wanted to try it from the get-go.)

***

bec 82: What are your thoughts on Neil Gaiman's blog post about an author taking as much time as they want to finish a series, no matter the readers feelings? Do you feel beholden to your fans at all? You've actually been churning out solid books at a fantastic rate. Is it motivated by a love of writing, or is there any element of "I'm doing it for the fans", or is it a rock solid respect for deadlines... ?

Brandon: I appreciate Neil standing up for authors like GRRM, as I feel an author has a right to do as they wish and have the perspective they wish on this.

I, however, feel differently. I feel indebted, and feel that I should finish what I start. However, I've also never done something to the length GRRM has. (Not yet.) So we'll see if I can keep it up.

For me, it's a mix of all three things you mention. Being beholden, loving writing, and having a good work ethic. I'm also fortunate in that I've got a very solid way of dealing with writer's block that works almost every time for me. (Answered elsewhere in this AMA.)

***

Thaed: I know you have a lot on your palte but - rough estimate- when do you think we'll see another book in stormlight?

Brandon: March/April 2013 would probably be the latest. Follow the % bar on my website, which I'll start on later this year.

***

Helen A Handbasket: How can you write fantasy that you know is just a story, yet believe in the fantasy that is Mormonism?

Brandon: I have had a personal witness from God that this is his church. I don't have answers to everything, and believe all things--even within religion--require rational examination. However, the feelings I have felt are repeatable, confirmable, and real. They are not produced by anything else I have experienced.

I try to keep my eyes open and my brain thinking, but the fact that I can confirm with real proof to myself the things I have read causes me to have faith and believe. I would not expect anyone else to believe without similar, first-hand proof.

***

Renian: When will we see a book that basically revolves around the concept of the Cosmere and the shard-travelers? Basically, a book revolving around people like Hoid who can jump from shard to shard.

Brandon: Third Mistborn Trilogy involves a lot of this. I MIGHT do some parallel stories showing more of what Hoid has been up to. He is a primary viewpoint protagonist of Dragonsteel, but that happens before all of the other books.

***

Renian: Why sell the movie rights to Mistborn to a relatively unknown producer? I get that they understand your vision for the movie and know how they want to be done, but I kind of think that other people in the movie industry would have been able to make your vision a reality so long as you were a consultant for the movie, and it would be more likely to see the light of day.

Brandon: When I sold the rights, I was not of the level of fame I now am. That's one consideration. It was the first REAL (as in, willing to up-front serious money) offer I'd had. I also knew that Red Eagle had had success with the WoT, being small and then getting the rights picked up by a large studio.

The producer impressed me a lot. He flew out to meet with me, and had a great vision. My agent and I thought that, getting a deal with a smaller producer and retaining some creative control was worth the risk. The worst that can happen is that a buyout doesn't happen by the end of next year, and the rights come back.

***

Renian: Would you like to see any of your works as an anime? Just wondering.

Brandon: I'd love it. I don't have any idea how I'd make it happen, though.

***

Renian: Why Mormonism, and not straight-up Christianity?

Brandon: This is going to be a hard one to answer as I am horribly, horribly biased by my own experience and upbringing. I believe for a couple of reasons. First, the spiritual. (Warning for others--churchyness follows.)

One of the founding principles of Mormonism is the idea that people must receive a personal witness that God exists, and that the Church is true. Without that witness, the Bible is just a book, with no more or less weight to it than other religious book teaching people to be good.

I have had that witness. It involved reading, praying, and feeling something inside. Something I can confirm time and time again, and something I can rely upon. It acts as proof to me. I find that there is not a conflict between religion and science for this reason--the logical part of my brain refuses to believe without proof. I can get that proof. That leads me to have faith in other things that the Church teaches.

The second are some logical things about Mormonism that I really like. 1) The concept that all people on Earth existed before being born, and agreed specifically to come to the planet to have their experiences here and grow. We all agreed we would rather take upon us the trials (some horrible and unjustified by our own actions) and have the chance to learn and grow.

This is the best way to reconcile a just, omnipotent God and suffering that I have yet found. It does not make it ANY less horrible that people suffer, and does not relieve our requirement to help people. However, it does lend understanding.

How can such horrible things happen? We believe that before this life, they accepted the chance that it might happen--we all did. In fact, we may have been asked if we would accept our own specific trials, alongside promises of what we would learn.

Renian: To put it another way, in Mistborn: The Hero of Ages, Sazed comes to the conclusion that none of the religions he studied were true, but all religions contain truth. What truth do you find in Mormonism that you do not find in Protestantism? As a Christian myself, I am genuinely curious as to your answer.

Brandon: The concept of "Hell" being the feelings of guilt and let-down we feel for failing to do what we promised. We believe that God will reward each person with as much joy as possible in the next life. Indeed, we believe that people--after death--have chances still to learn, grow, and decide what to do with their own destiny.

Many, many people who are not "Mormon" but who are good people will find their way to every bit of joy and heavenly glory as a member of the Church in this life. I dare say that there will be far more "non-Mormons" than "Mormons" in heaven, as it is defined. Joseph Smith taught, for example, that if a person lived their life in an exceptional way, but was never taught the Gospel, they will not be punished for what they could not learn.

Life--existence--is seen as a progression of learning, growing, and becoming. This is the purpose of the oft-misunderstood Mormon practice of baptism for the dead. Jesus taught that all people must be baptized to enter into heaven. For that purpose, we act as proxies to be baptized on behalf of others. (Ancestors, usually.) Those people, in the spirit world, can choose to accept or reject that baptism as they see fit. It's a way to draw the hearts of the children to their fathers, as spoken of in the scriptures.

3) The concept of men becoming as God is appeals to me in a logical sense. God is all powerful. Therefore, what is the greatest thing he can give to someone else? He could--if he wished--make any being equal to himself. It goes by the definition of being all powerful.

I can understand the protestant argument that this is gross arrogance. However, seen in the light of LDS theology--that we existed before this world, that we grow here, then continue to grow and learn on the other side--it starts to make sense.

gruevy: All religions containing truth, but not the complete truth, is right out of Mormon doctrine. So is the idea that God and man are the same type of being existing in different states. He just left out the middle part about revealing enough truth to a prophet to restore the complete religion. It's a fantasy series, after all, and I'd say he wrote what he thought would make a great story, but the ideas were probably inspired in some small way by his personal beliefs. To us Mormons it's hard to keep all of our religious influences out of our writing.

Renian: That's basically why I asked. When I saw that, I was like, "There's no way Brandon Sanderson does not subscribe to at least the second part of that theory himself."

Brandon: I strongly subscribe to the second part of the theory. I believe it is a greater idea of Christianity. All Truth is God's, and anything that leads people to be better is part of that Truth--regardless of who is teaching it.

***

crucix: Which of the many characters you have written do you like the most?

Brandon: It's a tough call. You kind of get into a character's head, and enjoy them all. I had a blast with Mat in TofM, where I feel I finally started to get him 'right.' But each book has characters that are just plain fun to write. (Kelsier in the first Mistborn, Sazed in the last.) I can't really chose.

***

crucix: Probably a RAFO question but why does Syl have an aversion to shard equipment? Is it something inherited from Kaladin's interaction with shardbearers?

Brandon: RAFO. (You'll will find out eventually.)

***

crucix: Do you have any plans for companions to any of your book series?

Brandon: I will do a stormlight book eventually. There is a Mistborn pen and paper RPG coming out later this year which will cover a lot of that for Mistborn.

***

Qurtys Lyn: With all these complex magic systems in your books, do you have all the rules for them written down somewhere? Also, as the worlds are all in the same universe, are the magic systems related in any way to each other, or completely independent from each other?

Brandon: I have them all written down. Currently, I use a wiki--find it [here](http://wikidpad.sourceforge.net/--to keep track of all of it.

The magic systems in cosmere books all conform to a few underlying rules. This came from my interest in physics, and its search for a 'unifying' theory. (Fascinating reading, if you haven't studied this.)

In my books, there is a unifying theory of magic, so to speak.

***

grumbaut: You've mentioned how you spent years honing your craft, essentially writing dozens of books before getting published. During this time, did you ever feel like giving up and doing something else? If so, how did you overcome your self-doubt?

I'm an aspiring writer, and one of my biggest struggles is silencing my internal editor (who tends to be very loud).

Brandon: My biggest crisis came when I felt that none of my books were ever going to sell because of several things.

1) Editors were telling me I was too long. 2) Editors were telling me epic fantasy by new authors no longer sold well. (Early 2000's, after Newcomb failed.) 3) Editors were telling me to be more gritty and low magic, like GRRM.

I tried a few books in an attempt to 'conform to the market' whatever that means. (For me, it was shorter books, without an epic feel, with dark, gritty, 'realistic' characters that were anti-heroes.) I failed big time. The books were very bad.

That's when I almost gave up. Nobody wanted what I wrote, and I couldn't write what I wanted. That was when I decided, one night, that I was going to just stop caring. I decided to disobey everything editors were telling me and write the biggest, most epic, most awesome book after my own 'style' that I could.

That turned out to be the Way of Kings. (Twice as long as the books editors were telling me were 'too long.') Right after finishing it, before sending it anywhere, I got a call from an editor wanting to buy Elantris (one of the books I'd written before trying to conform.)

***

Dovienya: I'm not going to waste Brandon's time with this - maybe someone else can answer.

Regarding the ending of the Mistborn Trilogy: What was up with Ruin having red hair? Is that significant? Does it mean that Ruin was originally a human who gained his powers somehow? My friend thought that Ruin was actually another red-haired character in the series, though I don't remember his name. I think he was a minor captain or something.

(My apologies for how vague this is - it's been a while since I read the series)

Phaz: That is on the right track. Do some reading up on Adonalsium and the Cosmere if you are interested.

Dovienya: Will do, but I have to be honest - there is something off putting about having to do internet research to truly understand the ending of a book/series.

Brandon: I try to make all of the cosmere stuff "bonus material" so to speak. I don't think it's essential to understanding Mistborn to know Ruin's origin. Those who want expanded information can find it, and theorize upon it. However, I intend to warn people up-front before writing any book where you have to know this to understand it.

Within the realm of Mistborn only, all you really need to know is that someone was holding this power--and that the 'individuals' of Ruin and Preservation were people, changed by the power they held. It holds to the theme of the story, with what happens regarding Sazed and other characters.

***

psiphre: Has your fame ever gotten you tail?

Benevolent1: He's married and attended BYU. Something tells me he isn't in it for the ladies.

psiphre: And that earns me downvotes? For asking a question? In an ASK ME ANYTHING thread?

Brandon: Oh, don't worry about the downvoters. It's all cool.

I met my wife AFTER I published, and she did read Elantris (my only book out at the time) before agreeing to a second date with me. So...not my fame, but my writing ability, can be said to have been an influence.

***

gandy93: Hello, Mr. Sanderson. I've recently (cca 20 hours ago) sent you a desperate message on your Goodreads account. Can you, please, look at it? Thanks. I too am curious if you are planning a sequel to Elantris. Thanks for answers.

Your Eternal Fan

Brandon: Hm. Man I almost never check there. (I try, but I don't always get around to it.) Could you send me an email with the question instead, through my website?

***

Trevor Moeller: If you could give any advice to someone starting out in the writing world what would it be?

Brandon: Write, write, write. Keep practicing. There's advice like that sprinkled all thorough this AMA. Like here.

Really, just keep at it. Practice, practice, practice. Second, learn the business. If you intend to self publish, learn the real ins and outs of it. Don't just do it. If you intend to traditionally publish, learn not just the publishers, but the names of the editors at the publishing houses and what they personally worked on. (Even better, authors they discovered.)

Trevor Moeller: I've also noticed you don't seem to like Terry Goodkind all that much from some of your twitter posts, as he's another favorite author of mine, I'm curious where that stems from?

Brandon: Don't take it too seriously. Mostly, my aversion to Goodkind stems from two places. First, WoT fandom and SoT fandom on-line have had kind of a 'rival teams' type of thing going on. Much of it comes from this. It's like picking the Yankees or the Mets. (And there's nothing wrong with liking both. My editor goes to both teams, and Tor publishes both WoT and SoT.)

So, it's kind of a root for the home team (for me, the WoT) and not the rival. On the other side, Terry has been notoriously bad to work with in the publishing industry and has said some very divisive things to both other writers, and to fans. He kind of comes off as a jerk. (Then again, Orson Scott Card has had the same complaints leveled against him, and I enjoy his work.)

So, again, don't read too much into it. Wizard's First Rule was actually a very solid book, and though I didn't get into the second, I can see why people enjoy reading him.

***

alanthiana: Allomancy is such a unique form of magic, in the fantasy realm of books. What was your inspiration in forming it?

Brandon: A mix of many things inspired Allomancy. The 'feel' of a magic that was really just a new branch of physics, as I spoke about in another post. Alchemy, which is fascinating to me from the standpoint of its place on the border, is another. Real scientists believed in Alchemy, but had to sort out that it was not scientific. It was a time of great thought, and a time when science and 'magic' were mixed in what now seems like strange ways.

Dune was an inspiration (having a limited resource, though I didn't limit it nearly as much, to give an economic side to the magic.) Vector physics was a big influence, as was the fact that I wanted to write a heist story. I therefore designed powers that worked for thieves. The 'burning' of metals was chosen because it resonated with science--the basic way we gain energy is by ingesting things and breaking them down for chemical energy. I wanted something that felt like it had one foot in science, but was also very magical.

***

alanthiana: Allomancy can be such an internal form of magic... how would you see it being dealt with visually, if Mistborn were ever to have a TV/movie version?

Brandon: Pushes and Pulls are going to be done (if this version of the film gets made) by having metals glow blue when an Allomancer is using their powers. There will be visual or auditory cues for the other powers as well.

***

alanthiana: If you could only have the collected works of one author with you on a deserted island... who would it be?

Brandon: I'm probably expected to say Wheel of Time, but I've practically got those memorized by this point. I'd say Pratchett, because I've only finished about half of his works, and have yet to re-read one of his books. (I discovered him pretty late.) Either that, or I'd say the collected works of Mead (meaning the paper products company) to have a near-endless supply of empty notebooks to fill with my own stories.

***

davebrk: What's your stance about sex in books? Compared to some other authors (Martin, Bakker) your books are almost sex-free. Is that because you're religious? Or you just don't feel that sex has a place in your type of fantasy book?

Brandon: I'm not one to say what has a 'place' in my type of fiction. There shouldn't be one person who has such a say--variety is exceptionally important.

People do have sex in my books, but you're right--I don't depict it happening. Part of this is the tone I want to have in my novels. Martin and Bakker write their type of story, and do it well. It is not the type of story I want to tel. My religion plays a part in this.

Another part is my feeling that I'd like to learn to tell stories like those in the past, who--through being reserved--were often more powerful in composition than they could have been by being graphic. I appreciated it when authors I read--like Anne McCaffrey and Robert Jordan--were not graphic in their depictions. It allowed me to play the story at the rating level I wanted to in my head, and allowed others to play the story at the rating level they wanted.

I want to write books that I don't feel uncomfortable giving to my young teenage nieces and nephews, but which also hold power and depth of storytelling enough to be engaging to the adult readers looking for something new in fantasy. This is the balance I've come up with. It's not the only way to handle things.

***

davebrk: What your opinion about ebooks? and ebook piracy? Have you lost money from piracy? Do you agree with Neil Gaiman about this?

Brandon: Neil is quite wise. I don't feel that I've lost money to piracy, and feel that it's basically a non-issue. Perhaps some day it will happen that this hurts more than it helps...but so far, everything points toward piracy increasing sales. Libraries have been around forever. Nobody who buys my books HAS to. They do so to support the author.

There are some things that bother me. For example, if an author doesn't want you to distribute their books that way, it's a jerk move to do so anyway. In that case, it has nothing at all to do with 'stealing' or anything like that. It's the author's legal and moral right, in my opinion, to say that. I think they're dumb for making a big deal of it, but it should be their right.

So...I don't know. I'm not going to tell folks to go out and torrent my books. I put one of my own up for free so you wouldn't have to. The biggest argument for piracy, in my opinion, is the "Let them try it out before they spend money on it" argument. So, this way people can try out my books for free. If they like my writing, maybe they'll consider buying the next one and supporting me.

I don't like that Torrent sites are making money by doing what they're doing, all the while hiding behind the idea that they're providing a service for the good of mankind. Some very few seem genuine in their dedication to the freedom of information. The rest just want to make a buck, and do it by cutting as many legitimate people out of the loop as possible.

But as for people sharing my work with friends, pirating an ecopy of a book they already have a physical copy of, trying out a book before buying a copy, and the like--you'll hear no complaint from me. In fact, I probably won't complain anyway, since it won't make a difference and it's really not hurting. There are some things about the entire culture that do annoy me, though.

***

davebrk: What setup do you use to write your books (OS, Word Processor)?

Brandon: MS Word, wikidpad, Windows with Firefox and Thunderbird.

***

davebrk: I saw in the thread advertizing this IAMA that you offered Kaladin_Stormblessed to use his name as a character in your book. What do you think about doing (like other authors do) some sort of a donation drive where people will donate to a charity of your choice in return for having their name as a character in your books?

Brandon: I do it frequently. I think it's a good way to give readers what they want, and to also do a good thing. And there is a very long, grand tradition of it in sf/f. It's hard to take some 'I'm an artist and won't do that kind of thing' stance when a large number of the grand masters of the genre did it.

***

luxgladius: I'm working my way through Mistborn and have read The Way of Kings and Warbreaker. It seems to me that one of your signatures as an author is a highly developed and often novel world mythology and magic system. I'm curious, do you develop the system in full before writing, and then introduce elements as the series progresses, or do you deliberately leave some wriggle room for later creative insights? For example, did you think of the duralumin when you first came up with aluminum among the other metals, or was that something you came up with in your brainstorming for The Well of Ascension? Do you already have a fully fleshed-out idea of all 10 orders of the Knights Radiant, or are you still coming up with them and their Ideals?

Brandon: It's actually a mix of both. I generally flesh everything out at the beginning--then, as I write (particularly the first book) knock huge holes in the worldbuilding and replace them with new and better things.

I work everything out, then leave notes to myself as to what is cannon so I can throw out bad ideas and replace them with better ideas as I write.

So, all ten orders are finished and worldbuilt. (I feel pretty good about them.) However, I could decide to move some things around as I write.

***

phrakture: You seem to be adept at creating interesting magic systems for your worlds - what is your creative process for creating something of this sort? Any hints as to what the next one might involve?

Brandon: I have tried to boil it down to three 'rules' or 'laws' I follow when writing magic systems.

1) The author's ability to resolve conflicts in a satisfying way with magic is directly proportional to how the reader understands said magic. 2) Weaknesses are more interesting than powers. 3) If you change one thing, you change the world.

Basically, the first one says "Don't pull things out of the air. If you want the magic to work, make it REAL and reliable. If you would rather have an air of mystery, which is fine, don't explain the magic--but don't make it do heavy lifting in the plot, either."

The second one says that what the magic CAN'T do is where your story and your character conflict comes from. Allomancy is interesting in part because it relies on metals that can run out. Steelpushing is interesting because you can only Push directly away from yourself.
This forces the characters to work harder, and makes the story more interesting. The most interesting things about Superman or Batman are their flaws--the things they can't do, the things that weaken them, their limitations.

3) Magic in a world should be interconnected with the politics, economy, science, religion, and everything else. The author must think through the ramifications of changing small things.

Next two magic systems you might see: 1) Disease magic. Bacteria have evolved to the point that they try to keep their hosts alive by granting them magical powers while you have the disease. So, you catch a cold, and can fly until you get over it.

2) I've got a a very cool 'throwing spheres of light' magic that I'm working on...which, when you break it down, was inspired by seeing how accurate baseball pitchers were and thinking about how that could be weaponized in a fantasy world.

3) That guy with his ice soap has me thinking about "freezing stuff in water" magic. Like, potions that do things only after they thaw...

***

douchebag karren: Do you work on one story until it's done, or do you work on one, then move to another, then come back to the first?

Brandon: I usually write new material for one book at a time, but will often jump off of that for a while and do edits on another, then come back. With AMOL, for example, I'll probably finish it in November, write something very short to clear my mind, then come back and do edits while I start working on the second Stormlight book.

***

Nolder: What's your favorite webcomic?

Brandon: How about my top five? I go back and forth on rankings.

1) Dr. McNinja 2) Sam and Fuzzy 3) Schlock Mercenary 4) Order of the stick 5) Uh...Sinfest or SMBC (I guess it's my top six.)

Really digging Kate Beaton lately, but man, she's worse than Order of the Stick at updating. And that's saying something.

***

33monks: Given the significance of palindromes in The Stormlight Archive, is it merely a coincidence that The Way of Kings clocked in at exactly 1001 pages?

Brandon: It didn't start out that way, but when I saw it was possible, I thought it was very cool. Hopefully, I can get them to do it for the other books.

***

johnnyomega: How does your faith affect what you include or don't include in your writings?

Brandon: I've kind of answered this other places. Here and here.

It makes me interested in religion, shapes who I am and what i find interesting, and drives me to look at aspects of religion and atheism from the perspectives of different characters with different thoughts on the matters. I keep the graphic sex and swearing down because of who I am as a person, and what I like to read in my own books. I worry about the violence, but feel that showing ramifications is at least one way of dealing with it.

***

halfmast: Have you had to eliminate any interests or hobbies in order to devote more time to reading and writing?

Brandon: Yes. Most of the time, it comes down to giving up things like television and video games. I've allowed myself to keep Magic (even encouraged my interest) because it is something social, where the other two really aren't for me.

***

halfmast: How do you keep from getting tired of the fantasy genre?

Brandon: I made a big change in my 20s. I started allowing myself to stop reading a book if I don't like it. I couldn't do that before; it was too hard. I had to keep going, even if the book wasn't working for me. Making that swap--only reading things that make me learn, grow, and keep me interested--helped more than anything else.

When I read an author, and blog or tweet about liking them, it's generally because I feel they're doing something in their writing better than I am, and they have taught me to be a better writer.

***

shdwfeather: One of the things I really like about your books is the creative and immersive backdrop that the stories take place in. I know you spend a lot of time (and words!) on the background material for these worlds. Will you ever publish your world-building notes?

Brandon: I'd like to someday. The reason I haven't yet is because many of them contain cosmere-related notes that give huge spoilers for other books. I could just expunge those, but I feel it better to let things grow a little more and then do some worldbooks. The Mistborn RPG coming out this year is half worldbook, though, and has a lot of setting information from my notes.

***

rbot1: Can we see a picture of your "battle station"? Where does the magic happen?

Brandon: Uh... Okay. I'll try to tweet one tomorrow.

***

ModernGnomon: The artwork in Way of the Kings is outstanding. I picked up a copy from the library and I am glad I did. I read your other books on my Kindle. Did I miss out? In general, what are your thoughts on e-readers as the medium for your stories?

Brandon: Kings has by far the most extensive artwork for any book I'd done. However, in the others, you are generally missing out on one or two really excellent maps. (Isaac's work is wonderful in the Mistborn books.)

I think ebooks ofter a lot of exciting opportunities, and some challenges. We can probably start doing full color maps, for example, in all books--but we need to make sure the devices can show them in the right way. For Way of Kings, the hardcover is the way to go for the art. That might not always be the case.

***

Khobra: I was wondering if you could talk a little bit about your creative process for designing magic systems. Do you have an idea for a story and then make the magic based around that? Do you have an idea for a system and then try and build stories that work around the system? How does designing the story world play into the process? When you're designing the system itself do you start off by figuring out what you want the end result to be and then work towards it, or is it the other way around?

Brandon: I've done it all of these ways.

Most commonly, I develop the magic, plot, characters, and some setting ideas separately. I combine them in my head, looking for good synergy. (Allomancy and Feruchemy were designed separately, then put into the same book.) Sometimes, I design to fit a story. (Hemalurgy was designed to fit a hole in the three-fold magic system I wanted to tell.) Other times, the magic comes first, then I build everything out of that. (This happened for my YA book Scribbler--also known as The Rithmatist--which isn't out yet.)

***

som1else: Was Vallano, Szeth's grandfather, also a Truthless? And if not, what did he do to disgrace the Shin?

Brandon:No, Vallano was not Truthless.

Szeth was a very respected member of his society, once. There are clues to what happened in his story, but you won't hear it in full until he gets his book. (Which will include his flashbacks.)

***

nomoreink: What software or tool do you use to write and organize your books?

Brandon: Microsoft Word (with the Document Map on) and wikidpad.

***
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Last edited by Terez; 09-01-2011 at 04:01 PM.
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Old 09-01-2011, 12:37 AM
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Great work Terez. Must've taken awhile. Hopefully some more WoT tid-bits that we can play with crop up over the next few days.
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Old 09-01-2011, 12:45 AM
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Yeah, he Tweeted that he was going to get to some HCFFs who joined reddit for this sole purpose tomorrow.
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Old 09-01-2011, 08:46 AM
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Thoroughly enjoyed reading this Thanks for putting it together!
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Old 09-01-2011, 03:33 PM
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Thank you so much for dedicating your time to this for those of us that missed it. It is very much appreciated, Terez.
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Old 09-01-2011, 04:03 PM
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I just added a few questions, but it's much easier to keep up with the new ones here. (Click 'context' to see the questions that go with Brandon's answers.)
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